it is, as you have seen, that the moment it was thought that secession had commenced in this great national confederacy of ours, you begin to hear at once of secession, not only in South Carolina
, but of secession in California
, secession in New England
, and lastly, you begin to hear of secession of New York city and Long Island
from the State of New York
[Laughter.] They are right in all this.
Dissolve this American Union, and there is not one state that can stand without renewing perpetually the process of secession until we are brought to the condition of the States of Central America
--pitiful states, unable to stand alone.
No, gentlemen, republican states are like the sheaves in the harvest field.
Put them up singly, and every gust blows them down; stack them together, and they defy all the winds of heaven.
[Tumultuous applause.] And so you have seen that these thirteen republican states all came to the conviction, each of them that it could not stand alone; and the thirteen came together, and you have seen other states added to them.
The state of Michigan
, the state of Indiana
; of Illinois
, the state of Wisconsin
, the state of Iowa
and the state of Louisiana
--what under heaven kept each of these states from setting up for itself and becoming independent?
Nothing, but that it could not stand alone.
And they are ready to be united to other republican states on this continent.
So it was with Texas
She was independent.
Why did she not remain so?
You know how much it tried us to admit her into the Union
; but it tried her much harder to stay out as long as she did. Why is not Kansas
content to remain out?
Simply because of the sympathy and the interest which makes it needful that all republican states on this continent shall be united in one.
Let South Carolina
, let Alabama
, let Louisiana
--let any other state go out, and while they are rushing out you will see Canada
and all the Mexican States
rushing in to fill up the vacuum.
[Loud applause.] It is the wisdom discovered by our fathers which is all concentrated in these three words of such pregnant meaning--E Pluribus Unum
. [Loud applause.] There is no such thing as one, separate from the many, in republican states.
[Continued applause.] And now, fellow-citizens, I will speak one word concerning the anomalous condition of our affairs produced by this disposition of some of the American
states to secede from the Union
It has taken, as it ought to have taken, the American
people and the world by surprise.
Why has it taken them by surprise?
Because it is unwise and unnatural.
It is wise that all the republican states of this continent should be confederated.
It is unwise that any of them should attempt to separate.
And yet it ought not to have taken us by surprise.
Whoever could have imagined that a machine so complicated, so vast, so new, so untried, as this confederated system of republican states, should be exempt from the common lot of states which have figured in the history of the world?
A more complex system of government was never devised — never conceived of among men. How strange it is, how unreasonable it is, that we should be surprised that a pin may drop out of this machinery and that the wheel should drag, or that the gudgeon should be worn until the wheel should cease to play with the regular action!
How could we expect to subsist for a period of seventy years exempt from the necessity of repairing our political system of government?
Every state in this Union is just like the federal Union--a republic.
It has its constitution, and its regular system of action.
No state is more than seventy years old, and there is not in any one state of this Union a constitution which is more than twenty-five years old; and so certain has it become that no state can adopt a constitution which will last for more than twenty-five years without being repaired and renewed, that in our own state the constitution which we adopted twenty years ago contains a provision that next year, without any appeal to the people whatever, a convention shall come together in the state of New York
and make a new constitution.
Is it strange, then, that this complex system of our government should be found, after a lapse of seventy years, to work a little rough, a little unequal, and that it should require that the engineer should look at the machinery to see where the gudgeon is worn out, and to see that the main wheel is kept in motion?
A child can withdraw a pin from the mightiest machine and arrest all its motion, and the engineer cannot see it when it is being done; but if the engine be rightly devised and strongly constructed, the engineer has only to see where the pin has fallen out and replace it, and the machine will then go on stronger and more vigorous than ever.
[Applause.] We are a family of thirty-three states, and next Monday I hope that we shall be a family of thirty-four.
[Cheers.] Would it not be strange, in a family of thirty-four members, if there should not, once in the course of a few years, be one or two, or three or four, or five of the members who would get discontented, and want to withdraw awhile, and see how much better they could manage their fortunes alone?
I think there is nothing strange in this.
I only wonder that nobody has ever withdrawn before, to see how much better they could get along on their own hook, than they get along in this plain, old-fashioned way under the direction of Uncle Sam.
They say that, while I was a boy, Massachusetts
and some of the New England
States got the same idea of contumacy for the common parent and want of affection for the whole family, and got up a Hartford Convention.
[Laughter.] I hope you do not think this personal.
[No, no.] Somebody in Massachusetts
--I do not know who — tried it. All I know about it is, that for the first twenty years of my political life, although I was a democrat — a Jeffersonian — born and dyed in the faith of the Republican
fathers, somehow or other, because I happened to become a whig, I was held responsible for the Hartford Convention.
[Laughter.] And I have made this singular discovery in contrasting those times with the present; that, whereas, when Massachusetts
or any New England
State, gets in a pet and proposes to go out of the Union
, the democratic party all insist that it is high treason, and ought to be punished by coercion; when one of the slave states gets into the same fret, and proposes to go out of the Union
, the democratic party think it exceedingly excusable, and have doubts whether — she ought not be helped out of the Union
, and whether we ought not to give her a good dowry besides.
[Laughter.] Now, gentlemen, my belief about all this is, that whether it is Massachusetts
or South Carolina
, or whether it is New York or Florida
, it would turn out the same way in each case.
There is no such thing in the book, no such thing in reason, no such thing in philosophy, and no such thing in nature, as any state existing on the continent of North America
outside of the United States